Login

Register

Login

Register

A Conversation with Catharine A. MacKinnon: Prostitution as Sex Work or Sexual Exploitation? | #tinder | #pof | #match | #sextrafficking | romancescams | #scams


In the year since pioneering legal and political theorist Catharine A. MacKinnon spoke at a CFR roundtable, the world has continued to face the COVID-19 pandemic, and the United States elected a new president. Having attended her Sex Equality class when I was a law student, I continue to admire and learn much from MacKinnon’s pathbreaking work. This blog reflects on MacKinnon’s thought-provoking discussion—as well as the impact of the last year’s events—on the debates over whether prostitution should be decriminalized. She also addressed how the prostitution debate helps inform international and national approaches to sex trafficking.

While the International Labor Organization considers sex trafficking—along with other forms of human trafficking—to be a form of forced labor, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) treats sex trafficking separately. According to DOJ (which adopts the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act definition), sex trafficking occurs when “a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion,” or when “the person induced to perform such act has not attained eighteen years of age.” Other forms of human trafficking include “[t]he recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.” 

Two Approaches

More on:

Women and Women’s Rights

In our roundtable, MacKinnon divided the main global positions on prostitution into two approaches: the sex work approach and the sexual exploitation approach. In MacKinnon’s analysis, when prostitution is called “sex work,” the act is considered consensual and an expression of agency and free will. The sex worker, according to this view, is in control of the interaction and is compensated for a service that is usually expected from women for free.

The sexual exploitation approach, on the other hand, considers prostitution as the oldest form of oppression and an act of coercion, and, in the words of MacKinnon, “as widespread as the institution of sex inequality to which it is foundational.” It understands prostitution as a last resort—when all other options and possibilities have been denied—rather than a free choice. Adherents of this perspective often point to research that shows a high likelihood of premature death among prostitutes: one U.S. study found that the homicide rate for prostitutes is many times higher than it is for women and men in other pursuits, and concluded that “[w]omen engaged in prostitution face the most dangerous occupational environment in the United States.”

Each approach, in turn, corresponds with a separate legal approach. Those who adopt the sex work model tend to favor decriminalization and the removal of criminal sanctions from those engaged in the sex industry, including pimps, brothel owners, and those who are themselves prostituted. Countries adopting this approach include Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. Even though prostitution is legal in these nations, most still have some forms of regulation in place.

In most parts of the United States, buying and selling sex is illegal—primarily reflecting the sexual exploitation approach. However, in the state of Nevada, legal brothels exist in ten out of seventeen counties. And legislation to decriminalize prostituted people, while retaining penalties for buying and selling them, has recently been introduced in New York State.

Enter: Biden Administration (and Comparative Models from Abroad)

Some advocacy groups have urged the Biden-Harris administration to shift its policy focus from sexual to labor exploitation as well as to prioritize prevention and victim protection over prosecution. Yet, even though the administration has announced new efforts to curb human trafficking, it has not signaled any movement away from the status quo when it comes to national policies on prostitution. Just last month, the Justice Department announced a new anti-human trafficking joint task force with several Latin American nations, highlighting the role of federal prosecutors. Attorney General Merrick Garland wrote the task force will focus in particular “on individuals and networks that abuse, exploit, or endanger those being smuggled, pose national security threats, or have links to transnational organized crime.” While the administration’s approach to the issue of trafficking and smuggling has come into focus, the likelihood of shifting its stance on prostitution from a sexual to labor exploitation approach seems less clear.

More on:

Women and Women’s Rights

Those who view prostitution as sexual exploitation aim to abolish the practice through penalizing the buyers and the sellers rather than the sold. A number of countries have adopted the “Nordic Model,” or “Equality Model,” which decriminalizes prostituted people but penalizes buying or selling them and provides options for prostituted people who wish to exit the industry. The Nordic Model was first adopted in Sweden in 1999. It is based on the idea that curbing demand by criminalizing buyers, without punishing those who are bought and sold for sex is the most effective way to combat prostitution. A handful of other countries have followed suit, including Canada, France, Iceland, Israel, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland.

The Impact of the Pandemic

The majority of people in prostitution are women who, even before the impact of the pandemic, were already among the most marginalized in society. Many of these women are impoverished, undocumented, or homeless, and struggle with significant challenges accessing social services and health care. And many face intersectional forms of discrimination and stigma based on race, gender identity, and other characteristics.

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the challenges survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking face. While COVID-19 itself does not discriminate, it has magnified underlying structural inequalities, impacting marginalized communities around the world. In the United States, the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women—particularly women of color—and has hit poor communities and communities of color the hardest. Writing about these race and gender justice paradoxes elsewhere, I’ve noted the duality presented by the fact that people of color and women have been disproportionately affected by job loss during the pandemic, but are also overrepresented among essential workers—what I refer to as the “Color of Covid” and “Gender of Covid.”

As vaccines begin to be administered globally, sex trafficking opponents worry that survivors will again fall through the cracks.

United Nations and International Assistance

The United Nations warned earlier this year that the pandemic has exacerbated the many challenges that sex trafficking survivors face. As governments have imposed lockdowns and travel restrictions, human traffickers have adapted and driven their criminal activity further underground, while those trafficked continue to face financial hardship and limited access to social services.

As an unintended consequence of measures implemented to curb the pandemic, women in the sex trade face increased “stigma, discrimination, and repressive policing,” as well as violence, disruption in aid, and deportation. Migrants, people experiencing homelessness, and transgender individuals who are trafficked face additional forms of discrimination and insecurity. Those trafficked for sex often lack food, shelter, or healthcare—further increasing their risks of contracting the virus. Preliminary findings by the UN Office on Drug and Crime suggest that those who are trafficked and/or in the sex industry are at higher risk of exposure to the virus and face higher barriers to health access in order to recover. Furthermore, the pandemic has forced millions of people out of the formal labor market and into unemployment, increasing their vulnerabilities and potentially pushing some into the sex industry.

Some governments, including those of Bangladesh, the Netherlands, and Japan, have responded by providing assistance in the form of food packages or direct financial aid to those exploited by sex traffickers. In other countries without state-sponsored aid, sex worker advocacy groups have organized to provide resources. However, MacKinnon said, “These schemes often exclude the most marginalized, including those who are homeless, transgender, or migrants.” In fact, MacKinnon notes that according to research, many prostituted people would leave prostitution if they had access to these forms of support generally, not only during the pandemic.

As COVID-19 was sweeping the globe in November 2020, the UN Committee on the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), issued a new general recommendation. In addition to recognizing the exploitative nature of prostitution and calling for an end to socioeconomic injustice for women and girls broadly, the Committee pinpointed another concern: that governments’ actions to dismantle sex trafficking networks can also have a negative impact on trafficked survivors. General Recommendation (GR) No. 38 calls on governments to “address the adverse collateral effects of anti-trafficking efforts by ensuring that innocent women and girls are not arbitrarily arrested, abused or falsely charged, in particular women belonging to marginalized groups and women in prostitution, including through any raids conducted by law enforcement authorities.”

Meanwhile, outside the hallowed halls of the United Nations, the challenges facing women have only grown during the pandemic. In Kenya, the incidence of violence against those in the sex trade tripled in the first month of COVID lockdowns. Moreover, one survey determined that 65 percent of prostitutes in Kenya did not have access to condoms and medication for HIV, due to COVID-19-imposed restrictions and economic inflation.

During her roundtable, MacKinnon acknowledged the recent retreats of Germany and the Netherlands—countries that had originally sought to legitimize the sex industry much like any other livelihood, but who have recently cited “harms they never intended and none of the benefits they did.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic,” MacKinnon noted in her closing remarks, “has highlighted all these conditions of inequality, making it clear that anyone who remains [in prostitution], is essentially subjected to being killed in order to try to survive.” It is time governments and multilateral organizations act to protect those who are most vulnerable.

Watch Catharine A. MacKinnon’s full roundtable: The Debate on Sex Trafficking and Prostitution

.  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .   .   .    .    .   .   .   .   .   .  .   .   .   .  .  .   .  .





Source link

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Leave a Reply

Shqip Shqip አማርኛ አማርኛ العربية العربية English English Français Français Deutsch Deutsch Português Português Русский Русский Español Español

National Cyber Security Consulting App

 https://apps.apple.com/us/app/id1521390354

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nationalcybersecuritycom.wpapp


Ads

NATIONAL CYBER SECURITY RADIO

Ads

ALEXA “OPEN NATIONAL CYBER SECURITY RADIO”

National Cyber Security Radio (Podcast) is now available for Alexa.  If you don't have an Alexa device, you can download the Alexa App for free for Google and Apple devices.   

nationalcybersecurity.com

FREE
VIEW